Some of the most sobering moments in my life have been at places like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Pearl Harbor, the Alamo, and Masada. These memorials mark the lives of men and women whose heroic sacrifice was offered in the fight for freedom.
At the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. these words are engraved in memory of the marching orders given to our heroes prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944.
You don’t sacrifice for just anything. You sacrifice for a cause.
While on Independence Day in the USA, we celebrate that cause, FREEDOM, it’s on Veteran’s Day that we honor those who fought for that cause and Memorial Day that we remember those who sacrificed their lives for that cause.
We have days like Memorial Day because it’s too easy for us to forget. Most people, myself included, would admit to having poor memories. How many of us bemoan the fact that we’re terrible at remembering people’s names? (I see that hand!)
It’s amazing how we can remember seemingly inconsequential information, yet the things that really matter (like someone’s name) so easily slip our mind. I’m an Olympics junkie. Particularly the Summer Olympics. I’m a Track & Field fan. One of those useless bits of information lodged in my brain is the host city for the Summer Olympics, dating back decades, even before I was born.
2020 2021 Tokyo, 2016 Rio, 2012 London, 2008 Beijing, 2004 Athens, 2000 Sydney, 1996 Atlanta, 1992 Barcelona, 1988 Seoul, 1984 Los Angeles, 1980 Moscow, 1976 Montreal, 1972 Munich, 1968 Mexico City, 1964 Tokyo, 1960 Rome, 1956 Melbourne, 1952 Helsinki, 1948 London, 1936 Berlin… the 1924 games were held in Paris, which any Chariots of Fire fan would know… and the 1896 games, the inauguration of the modern day Olympiad, were held in Athens.
It’s amazing what we remember. Maybe more amazing is what we forget.
The Apostle Paul, writing from prison, staring death in the face, penned these words to his disciple Timothy.
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.”2 Timothy 2:8-9 NIV
Remember Jesus Christ!
Long before General Sam Houston rallied the Texan Army with his famed battle cry, “Remember the Alamo,” the Apostle Paul challenged us to remember Jesus Christ. What does it look like for us as ministry leaders to remember?
WE REMEMBER WHAT WE LOVE
In Luke 22, the night before He was crucified, Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup, saying, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” When we keep our eyes on the cross, like we do when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember Jesus Christ. When we pray, thanking the Father each day for the forgiveness we’ve experienced through the cross because “He so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,” we remember Jesus Christ. When we preach the cross, proclaiming salvation in His name, we remember Jesus Christ. As the old hymn writer sang:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
And I will cling to the old rugged cross
Til my trophies at last I lay down;
And I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it someday for a crown.
WE REMEMBER BY HIS SPIRIT
Memory experts use a tool called the “memory palace” to store vast amounts of information, locked away in avault, where they’ve created a retrieval system to easily recall stored away memories and information. Better than a “memory palace” though, Jesus has given us an internal retrieval system to remember Him and everything He wants us to remember about following Him.
Our internal retrieval system has a name. The Holy Spirit.
What did Jesus say to His disciples before He went to the cross, knowing He’d be leaving them?
“But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”John 14:26 NIV
What we take in, what we store away, the Holy Spirit helps us to remember. When we are filled with and controlled by the Spirit, He keeps Jesus front and center in our hearts and minds.
WE REMEMBER WHEN WE SHARE
What did Paul say? “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.” Remember who He is. Remember what He has done. Remember why it matters. He is the Son of God, divine, raised from the dead. He is the promised Messiah, human, descended from David.
When we stoke the fires of our passion for Christ by keeping the cross in front of us… and when we lean into the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us… something else supernaturally happens.
We share Jesus with others.
“THIS IS MY GOSPEL!”
We remember Jesus when we speak His name, when we tell others about Him.
“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ Jesus!”Philemon 1:6 NIV
Notice the Apostle Paul didn’t say, “Remember Jesus Christ, hung on a cross, descended from David.” Paul instead focused on the resurrection, “raised from the dead,” which by inference includes the cross. Paul focused on victory. “God’s Word cannot be chained!”
At the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. these words are engraved in memory of the Battle of Midway, June 4-7, 1942.
They had no right to win, yet they did. And in doing so they changed the course of a war. Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith, and valor – that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.
More than the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or Pearl Harbor, or the Alamo, or Masada, one memorial stands out above all the others for me. The Garden Tomb in Israel. The tomb is empty. The sacrifice was complete. The victory is secure.
Remember Jesus Christ. He is our gospel. His Word cannot be chained. Never forget!